Republican presidential contenders Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney squared off on college tuition for undocumented immigrant students during last week’s CNN/YouTube debate.
As governor of Arkansas from 1996 to 2007, Mr. Huckabee supported a proposal that would have given undocumented children who had lived in Arkansas for a certain amount of time and graduated from a public high school in the state the same chance at an academic scholarship to state institutions as other students.
Mr. Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, argued in the Nov. 28 debate in St. Petersburg, Fla., that “illegal aliens” would have gotten “a special deal” in Arkansas. Mr. Huckabee, who noted that the measure never passed, said such students would have had to earn the scholarships academically and shouldn’t be “punished” for the actions of their parents.
The exchange was one of only a handful dealing with education during the two-hour debate. Hundreds of questions submitted for the debate, which allowed voters to query the candidates via homemade YouTube videos, centered around education. Voters asked everything from how the candidates would change the federal No Child Left Behind Act, to their plans for helping students better afford college, to their stances on the teaching of evolution in the classroom and national education standards.
But those queries didn’t make the cut. Still, Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City, used a question about why African-Americans are reluctant to support Republicans to showcase his views on school choice.
Mr. Giuliani said his party must do a better job of reaching out to black voters who agree with Republicans on issues such as school choice.
“The idea of choice in education is something that would totally turn around education in this country,” he said. “It’s something that large percentages of African-American and Hispanic parents support. They would like to be able to choose a private school, a parochial school, a charter school, home schooling for their children.”
A version of this article appeared in the December 05, 2007 edition of Education Week